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Improving Performance of Federal Permitting and Review of Infrastructure Projects

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Electricity and Energy Reliability has built upon its ongoing effort to reflect the Obama Administration’s commitment to improving the resiliency, reliability, and security of the nation’s electricity delivery system by announcing the upcoming publication of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Integrated Interagency Pre-Application Process (IIP) on electric grid transmission.

The IIP is intended to provide a roadmap and encourage early coordination between electric grid transmission project proponents and permitting agencies on transmission projects.  The IIP process, as proposed, is designed to improve interagency and intergovernmental coordination, to encourage early engagement with stakeholders, and to help ensure Project Proponents develop and submit accurate and complete information early in the project planning process.

The IIP process, as proposed, includes an initial and final meeting and provisions that would allow project proponents to engage in DOE-facilitated early project information sharing and development of an applicant-prepared environmental assessment intended to inform any subsequent environmental review by federal agencies under the National Environmental Policy Act.  The authority to issue this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking comes from DOE’s authority to coordinate the review of interstate electric transmission projects requiring multiple federal authorizations pursuant to section 216(h) of the Federal Power Act.

More information about the IIP and the opportunity to provide public comments on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is available at http://www.Regulations.gov.

Background Information

Modernizing the nation's electric transmission grid requires improvements in how transmission lines are sited, permitted, and reviewed. As part of its efforts to improve the performance of Federal siting, permitting, and review processes for infrastructure development, the Administration created a Rapid Response Team for Transmission (RRTT), a collaborative effort involving nine executive departments and agencies. The RRTT is working to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and predictability of transmission siting, permitting, and review processes, in part through increasing interagency coordination and transparency. An integrated pre-application process is one potential method to achieve these goals and to increase the predictability of the siting, permitting, and review processes.

On March 22, 2012, the President issued Executive Order 13604. “Improving Performance of Federal Permitting and Review of Infrastructure Projects” that directed all Federal agencies to “take all steps within their authority, consistent with available resources, to execute Federal permitting and review processes with maximum efficiency and effectiveness, ensuring the health, safety, and security of communities and the environment while supporting vital economic growth.” Following on that Order, the President issued a Memorandum on May 17, 2013 that discussed agency best practices identified as a result of Executive Order 13604. On June 7, 2013, the President issued another Memorandum. directing Federal agencies to “develop an integrated, interagency pre-application process for significant onshore electric transmission projects requiring Federal approval.”

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, in collaboration with the Member Agencies of the Steering Committee (Member Agencies) created under Executive Order 13604 of March 22, 2012, and pursuant to the June 7, 2013 Transmission Presidential Memorandum, is seeking public input on a draft Integrated, Interagency Pre-Application (IIP) Process. The proposed IIP Process is intended to improve interagency and intergovernmental coordination focused on ensuring that project proponents develop and submit accurate and complete information early in the project planning process to facilitate efficient and timely environmental reviews and agency decisions.

The draft Process and supplementary information are available in the Request for Information  that was published in the Federal Register on August 29, 2013. A second notice was published in the Federal Register on September 25, 2013, announcing that the comment period has been extended. Comments must be received on or before October 31, 2013. All comments received during the RFI period were posted online.